Made from girders

From the long defunct Brownhills Reporter of December, 1905. A cracking find by Howmuch…

The long pondered question of subsidence in the Bullings Heath area, and the age of the black Cock bridge became a little clearer last week. Top reader and local history ferret [Howmuch?] found this wonderful snippet in the archives of the long gone newspaper, ‘The Brownhills Reporter’.

There have been many references found in the local press relating to the raising of the approaches of this bridge, and the question of just how much it sank has been controversial. My overall feeling that the sinkage can’t have been more than two to three feet or so, and that occurred before the construction of the canal cottages in Hall Lane seems to be about right. I seem a bit off with the date, though as I suspected 1890 to 1910.

She looks to be about a hundred years old. Wonder if there was a telegram from the queen?

The report describes the proposed replacement of the original Black Cock brick arched bridge with a new  girder construction, i.e. the current bridge. I have a feeling the same abutments and retainers were re-employed, which would explain some of the odd features of the brickwork.  The killer figures in this are that the bridge is only 3½ inches higher – not the huge subsidence figure of folklore, but significant – and the 2 foot 5 inch wider – the bridge is narrow now. As I assume this is the original bridge being replaced, it can’t have been much more that a footbridge in reality. The needs of the wider economic community would have been pushing for it’s replacement anyway.

The question of the approaches is also interesting. A back of the envelope sketch suggests that a modest rise in height is enough to make the approaches horridly and untenable steep. They must have been awful for cart traffic, and should think they knackered many a horse.

It will be interesting to see if anything else surfaces on this topic. Oh, for a photo of the bridge in those days, but they were such common structures that nobody would waste a plate. Anyone having further information, please don’t hesitate to comment or mail me at BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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6 Responses to Made from girders

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    More great detective work.

    Two thoughts:
    1. 2’5″ is slightly narrower than a typical domestic internal doorway (2’6″). Packhorse bridge?
    2. Is the 3.5 ” higher just more headroom above the water? [Obviating the need for Aynuk (or Ayli) to chip away at the brickwork?]

  2. Clive says:

    Nice one Bob and Howmuch, the mystery is slowly but surly making sense!

  3. pedro says:

    Can’t find any reference in the Archives. The nearest is from 1908 10 July…

    The surveyor reported that Hall Lane and Black Cock Bridge, Walsall Wood, had been coated with broken slag and steam rolled; and the sides of the tram way track at Walsall Wood were being repaired by Walsall Corporation.

    Regards Pedro

  4. stymaster says:

    Nice work Howmuch. At 2′ 5″ narrower, that would have been very narrow. I’m now wondering if the planks are 3.5″ thick….

    Also, did the same thing happen to Clayhanger bridge? The pre-1994 one was very similar to this one.

  5. pedro says:

    Lichfield Mercury 11 June 1909….

    The canal company were now raising the bridge over the canal at Clayhanger Road, and on completion it would be necessary to raise the approaches on both sides thereof….the delay in carrying out the work at the canal bridge at Clayhanger Road. It was stated that the work had been stopped since Whitsuntide, and the vehicular traffic had to go 3 miles round in consequence.

    Regards Pedro.

  6. Pingback: Who’d be a carthorse? « BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

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